Mr. Putin dipped into deep wells of emotion, starting with the 10th century baptism of Prince Vladimir, whose conversion to Orthodox Christianity transformed the kingdom then known as Rus, to the collapse of the Soviet Union, which left many Russians of his generation feeling that they had been stripped of their nation overnight.
“Millions of Russians went to bed in one country and woke up abroad,” he said. “Overnight, they were minorities in the former Soviet republics, and the Russian people became one of the biggest — if not the biggest — divided nation in the world.”...
Mr. Putin brushed aside concerns about economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation, saying the West had forced Russia’s hand. By supporting the political uprising that toppled Ukraine’s president, Viktor F. Yanukovych, the United States and Europe crossed “a red line,” Mr. Putin said, forcing him to act to protect Crimea’s population from what he called “Russophobes and neo-Nazis” that had seized control in an illegal coup abetted by foreigners.
March 18, 2014
Said President Vladimir V. Putin, embracing Crimea as a part of Russia.